One common barrier to people installing a solar pool heater can be getting over the plumbing that must necessarily run along the roof, sometimes for long distances. Some people think it will be ugly. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that’s usually not an acceptable answer to prospective clients or new system owners. Most people overestimate how visible plumbing will be and how often people actually look up at the roof.
Solar Pool Heater white plumbing is far less visible from the ground, especially if strategically routed along the roof.
The only viable options are white or black plumbing. While black might seem like a preferable option, in Southwest Florida black plumbing can be problematic. During the summer, pools get too warm and solar pool heaters are usually shut down. Systems that have stagnant water trapped in them when not in use can cause plumbing to soften, swell, warp, and expand. These problems are greater over longer lengths, but can affect all black plumbing. This issue causes a range of problems that are avoided for the most part when using white plumbing.
Pressure rated PVC pipe is not readily available in a wide range of colors, and it would be extraordinarily expensive relative to white pipe. Standard white plumbing is cost effective, and more importantly, durable. White PVC pipe can be painted, but I do not recommend it for the following reasons:
It is expensive to do because of the labor required, especially for the roof plumbing.
While it looks fairly good initially, it will eventually fade and flake, making it look very bad, and is again expensive to repaint.
I would make two recommendations to people with concerns about white plumbing. First, live with it for a few weeks and see if you feel the same way. Most people decide that it is not noticeable unless they are asked or reminded to look directly at it. Solar panels are really out of sight and out of mind for all practical purposes. I can’t remember the last time I recall consciously looking at my system. Second, if you decide you want the pipes painted, consider only painting wall pipes. I can’t stress enough how bad painted roof plumbing can look after a few years in the sun.
With tens of thousands of systems in the area, solar pool heaters are ubiquitous in Southwest Florida, and it is common to use white plumbing on walls and roofs. Your home will not look out of place with a solar pool heating system. In fact, in some neighborhoods, you may be one of the few homeowners without one!